Last updated: 26.04.12

University of Wisconsin-Madison innovates with e-learning

Online learning programs are enhancing the academic experiences of people who attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US.

An on-campus movement called Educational Innovation is taking place at the institution, encouraging staff and faculty members to develop new ways of learning.

It is hoped this will result in the university becoming more self-sufficient, improve its capacities and produce more resources for students.

One of the leaders of Educational Innovation is Jamie Henke, who created a virtual learning environment to support people participating in music theory courses.

Some people thought the only individuals who would be interested in e-learning would be people that wished to attend lectures and seminars dressed in their pyjamas or those who did not want to leave their residence halls, the university claimed.

Instead, the course has attracted overseas students, as well as people in employment or taking internships that need the flexibility that distance learning online can provide.

Lawyers, computer programmers and retired dentists have also signed up for online training in the composition of music.

Vice-provost for teaching and learning at the university Aaron Brower argued blended and online learning can enhance the academic performance of students, as well as maintain it.

"To do it right requires time, efforts and some start-up costs," he pointed out.

Professor of library and information studies Kristin Eschenfelder teaches an e-learning course for database design.

She claimed these innovative educational tools can sometimes be better than working from a traditional classroom.

Her students must listen to virtual lectures, which contain audio put over the top of a Powerpoint presentation, as well as work through a workbook.

"They enjoy that the database lectures are online because it allows them to listen to a difficult part of a lecture over and over and over again without the embarrassment of revealing they didn't get a point," she pointed out.